A Simple Government: Twelve Things We Really Need from Washington (and a Trillion That We Don't!)
Mike Huckabee is tired of having social conservatives dismissed as irrelevant when fiscal priorities dominate the political discussion. "The idea that there is a conflict—if there is, it's not among social conservatives," he says. He also wants Americans to stop talking about President Obama's birth certificate and spreading false rumors that he is a Muslim, saying it's "inappropriate, wrong-headed, and not helpful to the overall discussion." Christianity Today spoke with Huckabee about prioritizing economic and social issues, whether a candidate's faith matters, and why he would enter the presidential race in the summer if he runs.
In your new book you make an argument that economic policy and social issues are interconnected. Do you think conservatives have let economic issues distract them from social issues?
It's more than a distraction. It's a misunderstanding of the connection, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to open with a reminder that you cannot have a strong economy if you have a social structure that's falling apart. If you look at the most runaway costs of government, it's Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid—all of which are essentially programs government designed to pick up the pieces of broken people. There was a day in our culture when families would have taken care of their family members. Two-thirds of women today who are impoverished, their children would not be in poverty if they were married to the fathers. There's a $3 billion Dad deficit, which is the direct cost that results from absentee fathers and single parents. I know some people who are fiscal conservatives who aren't necessarily social conservatives, and they may even be philosophically—they just don't think it's all that urgent. But the truth is the social conservative movement is also the foundation of the fiscal conservative movement. I'm tired of having social conservatives dismissed as irrelevant and out of touch with the real problems of joblessness and economic concerns.
In your last interview with CT, at the end of 2009, you said you'd run for President if there is a strong frustration with the Obama administration, if you had strong support within the Republican Party, and if you had enough money. Are those requirements in range, and are you leaning toward running at this point?
Well, it's not something I've ruled out. The thing for me will be, do I see a pathway to get to the finish line? One of the things I have as an advantage is that I've been the through the process before, so I understand the dynamics a lot better. Many people are looking into getting into things as early as possible so they can launch and begin to build. I'm in a very different situation, that if I do it, it will be much, much later, it will be late in the summer as opposed to sometime in the next three or four months.
What makes you stand out from the other potential presidential candidates who are also evangelical—like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty?
I don't even know that I would feel comfortable making some kind of comparison because I consider them friends and colleagues, not opponents, and I wish them the very best.